SNP Group to meet on Tuesday 20th in time to put Argyll and Bute for Change into power on Thursday 22nd August

The charade continues.

SNP Group ‘Leader’, Councillor Sandy Taylor, has emailed his colleagues with a notification, but little detail, of the SNP’s attendance at two meetings  this week:

  • the Council-wide Short Life Working Group on Political Management Arrangements on 12th August;
  • and the meeting he led SNP ‘negotiators’ into yesterday, 13th August, with the Argyll and Bute for Change Alliance.

Firstly, it is uncomfortable to note that, in respect of the SNP Group meeting held last week at which the group voted 6-1 to join the Argyll and Bute for Change Alliance led by Councillor Duncan Macintyre, members of the SNP Group were:

  • deliberately misinformed by Councillor Taylor as to the matter of this meeting  – told that there was nothing beyond the usual on the agenda;
  • not informed of the meeting by Councillor Taylor.

Quite how this conduct of member-to-member relations can be justified to the satisfaction of Audit Scotland, due to report on this very issue in relation to Argyll and Bute Council in September – would be interesting to hear.

A tale of two meetings

Yesterday evening, Councillor Taylor, communicating to the entire group, invited his colleagues to attend a meeting of the SNP Group in Oban on Tuesday 20th August at 3pm to hear more of what was discussed at the meeting with Argyll and Bute for Change earlier yesterday; and come to an agreement on it.

He provided his colleagues with an outline sketch of what was discussed yesterday, 13th August, between the representatives of the Argyll and Bute for Change Alliance [Councillors Duncan Macintyre, Dick Walsh, Donald Kelly and Iain Angus Macdonald] and the SNP Group [Councillors Sandy Taylor, John Semple, Anne Horn and Isobel Strong].

According to Councillor Taylor’s note: ‘The SNP team met with representatives of Argyll and Bute for Change this afternoon, when both parties explored the potential to work together in the future.

‘Amongst the issues of concern raised by the team were
i.                    The way forward with regard to the PMAs [Ed: Political Management Arrangements]
ii.                  Leadership
iii.                 Structures
iv.                 How we would work together
v.                  Constraints – policy issues
vi.                 Communication, and
vii.               Timing

‘The team made a commitment to provide a list of questions which need to be considered by both Groups.
The team undertook to provide feedback to the whole SNP group, and to seek approval for continuing dialogue.’

‘Timing’ is interesting.

One has to conclude that the need to meet on Tuesday 20th August, two days before the August Council meeting on Thursday 22nd August, relates to ‘Timing’.

Our sense seems well placed that the Council meeting on Thursday next is likely to end with the Argyll and Bute for Change Alliance leading the political management of the council, with Former Council Leader, Councillor Dick Walsh, back in the driving seat.

The leading group within the Argyll and Bute for Change Alliance is the Alliance of Independent Councillors, led by Councillor Dick Walsh, voted out of power at the 2012 Scottish Local Authority elections.

Concerns on political propriety

We note that Councillor Isobel Strong was one of the SNP group negotiators who attended today’s meeting with Argyll and Bute for Change Alliance.

It is disturbing that the Provost of Argyll and Bute has seen fit to attend what was a deeply partisan meeting, as a negotiator for her party with another group.

Former Provost, Councillor William Petrie, did not engage in this sort of political activity.

It is particularly disturbing that the Provost, by her participation, has effectively endorsed an essentially divisive discussion sequence which excludes a substantial group of councillors – the Argyll, Lomond and the Isles Group. This group contains four Liberal Democrats, three Conservatives and three Independents.

Their exclusion from discussion on what are clearly, in any sense of the term,  ‘political management arrangements’ therefore excludes them from participation in the planned governance of Argyll and Bute. Several of these councillors are also the most experienced and the most able in the chamber.

This is not what the voting public and Audit Scotland were given to expect at the last full council meeting at the end of June, where all groups appeared to be signing up to a chamber-wide collaborative government.

The Short Life Working Group on Political Management Arrangements was then tasked by council to come up with recommendations on how this might be achieved.

This all looks rather pointless now, subverted by extracurricular deals.

Councillor Taylor’s note on yesterday’s Short Life Working Group meeting

The note from the SNP Group ‘Leader’  to his colleagues on this meeting reports:

‘(Representatives: Roddy McCuish, John Semple, Anne Horn and Gordon Blair)
‘Yesterday’s meeting proved very fruitful.
‘Members identified and agreed the following:
i.                    [Ed: This was left blank.]
ii.                   Too much coming to the full council to allow for effective and informed political scrutiny.
iii.                  Too little local accountability.
iv.                  Too much going to and from the centre.
v.                    Political instability.
vi.                  Too few members involved in establishing the political and strategic direction of the council
‘Members agreed that our aims should be:
vii.                Political stability
viii.               Increased accountability
ix.                  Increased responsiveness to local needs
x.                   Increased involvement of all elected members
‘At the conclusion of the meeting, the SLWG agreed that:
1.       The current governance structure is not working effectively.
2.       Below Council level there should be an additional structure (committees/cabinet/other model).
3.       PPSL, Audit and Performance Review Committees should be retained.
4.       Area Committees should be strengthened in remit and purpose.
5.       The structure of reports and papers to be reviewed.
The SLWG will hold another meeting soon after the next council meeting and is conscious that its deliberations will need to take into account the report from Audit Scotland once it is made available to all members in September or early October.’

It does not seem to occur to Councillor Taylor that the Audit Scotland Commissioners should be appraised of the developments in which he and his SNP co-negotiators are engaged with Argyll and Bute for Change; and that they might need to take these into account in their upcoming report.

It will be of further interest to residents of Argyll’s five major towns that, as ‘Leader’ of the SNP group, Councillor Taylor, at the Short Life Working Group meeting, took his lead from the Argyll and Bute for Change Alliance presentation.

He too has omitted any consideration of where the management of the expensive and failing CHORD programme for the regeneration of these towns should fit in to ‘PMA’s – Political Management Arrangements.

It is also a measure of Councilor Taylor’s acuity that he has pronounced the session to have been ‘fruitful’ in being led by a presentation from the Argyll and Bute for Change Alliance which included an idiocy touted for support yesterday evening in an email to all colleagues from Councillor Michael Breslin – an SNP resignee, now an Independent.

Councillor Breslin says:

‘Dear all, please find attached our proposals on new political management arrangements as discussed at yesterday’s meeting of the short life working group. While we have outlined a number of possible models, we suggest that what we have called model 5, a hybrid model, might work best.’

When you look at the detail Councillor Breslin attached, it is a Powerpoint version of the proposal submitted in advance by the Argyll and Bute for Change Alliance to the Short Life Working Group for yesterday’s meeting.

This is the description in this text of the ‘hybrid model’ Councillor Breslin recommends:

‘Some models for discussion

  1. A cabinet structure
  2. A committee structure
  3. A mix of 1 and 2
  4. A devolved model, ie to area level
  5. A mix of 3 and 4

‘Which of these, if any, best meets our aims? ‘

Right. Think about this daffy.

  • Option 3 is for a marriage if Options 1 and 2
  • Option 4 is a new option
  • Option 5 is for a marriage of Options 3 and 4.

So the ‘hybrid model’ – Option 5 -  is simply an ‘All of the above’ option.

This fails utterly to discriminate between the options on the basis of any analytic procedure. It is no more than a ‘throw up the hands and  chuck ‘em all in’ conclusion designed to buy support from anyone with any preference of any kind. All are guaranteed to be there.

This is the sort of ‘governance’ the SNP Group cannot wait to support to get themselves out of any real responsibility in Argyll and Bute.

A sad day.

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13 Responses to SNP Group to meet on Tuesday 20th in time to put Argyll and Bute for Change into power on Thursday 22nd August

  1. J from this update and the membership of the SLWG there were some grown-ups involved.
    There are ONLY 11 council meetings a year but for the following councillors it is all too much:
    Provost Isobel Strong, Councillor Sandy Taylor, Councillor Donald Kelly, Councillor Gordon Blair, Councillor Michael Breslin, Councillor Vivien Dance, Councillor Anne Horn, Councillor Iain MacDonald, Councillor Roderick McCuish, Councillor Ellen Morton, Councillor Gary Mulvaney, Councillor Douglas Philand, Councillor Elaine Robertson, Councillor John Semple and Councillor Dick Walsh.
    Methinks newsie was right and it is all a smokescreen as they fight amonst themselves for positions and money in the new coalition. Naked greed and ambition on display. In the stated aims of these councillors the people of Argyll and Bute they were elected to serve don’t get mentioned.
    Dick Walsh already in leadership mode promising to bring World Piping Championship back to Dunoon with council money.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 8

    • When you say it was “all too much” for the Councillors you name, are you saying that they didn’t attend ANY of the Full Council meetings? Or one or two? Or half of them?
      More information, please, NoCheese.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

    • “but for the following councillors it is all too much:”

      explain your reasoning why you have left out the rest of the councillors? Are you one your self?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

      • You can always rely on Russell’s Cowal trolls for inane posts.
        All those councillors are either on the SLWG or are SNP members who think that putting in 11 full day sa year for council meetings is too demanding for their salaries.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

        • NO Cheese Here:- You state that
          “All those councillors are either on the SLWG or are SNP members who think that putting in 11 full day sa year for council meetings is too demanding for their salaries.”

          Are your comments based on ignorance, bias or both. I will let you pencil in what party the individual works for.

          Argyll and Bute Councillors attendance 2012-13

          Posted on May 15, 2013 by newsroom

          The following is the attendance record of each of the Argyll and Bute councillors for the year May 2012 to April 2013. The figures shown against each name represent absences from the 12 monthly meetings of the full council in that period – so 3 absences = 25%.

          0: Blair, Gordon
          0: Breslin, MIchael
          2: Colville, Rory
          1: Corry, Maurice
          1: Currie, Robin
          0: Dance, Vivien
          1: Devon, Mary Jean
          0: George Freeman
          1: Hall, Fred
          2: Horn, Anne
          3: Kelly, Donald
          2: Kinniburgh, David
          0: Glen-Lee, Louise
          0: MacDonald, Iain Angus
          0: MacDougall, Alastair
          3: MacIntyre, Duncan
          1: MacIntyre, Robert E
          1: McIntyre, Robert G
          1: Marshall, Bruce
          2: McAlpine, John
          2: McCuish, Roddy
          3: McMillan, Donnie
          2: McNaughton, Alex
          1: McQueen, James
          1: Morton, Ellen
          0: Morton, Aileen
          2: Mulvaney, Gary
          2: Philand, Dougie
          0: Robb, James
          0: Robertson, Elaine
          1: Scoullar, Len
          2: Semple, John
          2: Strong,Isobel
          0: Taylor, Sandy
          0: Trail,Richard
          1: Walsh, Dick

          ps as for being a Russell troll I believe Russell has a lot to answer for as to the current debacle along with Cllr Breslin, Robb, McCuish (and cohorts) so you are wrong again.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  2. We’ve all known that Newsie has been right all along. The only people who have been protesting that she is wrong are SNP supporters who have clearly been squirming with embarrassment.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 12

  3. Roddy McCuish is obviously Russell’s next victim. A faction from the SNP meet with the Chaos Alliance for merger talks but the SNP Council Leader is excluded! Is this the same Council Leader who got such unstinted praise at the last council meeting. A pound gets a lot in the politics of Argyll & Bute Council.
    Is the Chaos proposal still to have several leaders but with Dick Walsh as the supreme leader? Then spend more on toothless committees but the decsions are made by a small group of Dick Walsh’s choosing. This may be change but it isn’t improvement.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 7

  4. Interesting to see For Aryll leading the campaign to return independents to power – the same independents that used to exclude For Argyll from even attending council meetings.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

    • We campaigned as hard as we could to make the SNP – which we voted for but never again – accept its local elected responsibility and do the governing it had asked to get.
      We, like everyone, saw the evidence for the party hierarchy forcing the local party to get out of power – instructing them to vote against their own motions from their own leadership.
      We, like everyone, saw our elected local representatives discount absolutely their duty to Argyll and Bute and do as they were told.
      Four who insisted on respecting their party’s responsibility and opposed party central’s hysterical pressure to make them walk away in order to protect the vote in next September’s Independence Referendum actually became the renegades. This is painfully ironic since it has been these who have tried to save their party’s credibility – now irretrievable.
      This pantomime has shown us all the essential danger of party politics at local level. They don’t work for us. They work for their party. They do as they are told in a very different set of interests.
      At least no external body pulls the strings of independents.
      Failing serious reform of local politics, this looks like the better bet – but the best vote is always for the best candidate – on performance and regardless of what colours they run in.
      The SNP candidates who have tricked and wavered and done as they were instructed from elsewhere are not the best candidates for anything again.
      Whatever else they may do locally, what history they may have had, when their party called, they set aside their responsibilities to their constituencies and to Argyll and Bute. Only the blindfold party diehards will vote for them again.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 9

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